World’s oldest shipwreck found in Mediterranean, say officials
A ship dating back some 3,600 years has been found off Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. The shipwreck, found by the Akdeniz University (AU) Underwater Research Center teams, is reported to be oldest in the world.
Antalya Governor Münir Karaloğlu said that the 14-meter-long shipwreck was carrying 1.5 tons of copper ingots. “This discovery is the Göbeklitepe of underwater archaeology,” he said, referring to the earliest known temple found in Turkey’s southeast.
A press conference was held about the new discovery on April 8 in the Kaleiçi Marina with the participation of Karaloğlu, AU Rector Professor Mustafa Ünal, AU Underwater Research Center director associate professor Hakan Öniz and underwater photographer Tahsin Ceylan.
Ceylan took the underwater images and photographs of the new discovery, which is also called the Bronze Age shipwreck. The shipwreck is estimated to remain off the western coast of Antalya, but its exact place was not revealed to prevent it from being plundered.
Hailing the discovery as a “breakthrough,” the governor said, “Akdeniz University has an underwater research center in Kemer. As a result of the work carried out by the team headed by Öniz, we say that it is in the west of Antalya, but we cannot say the exact location at the moment.”
“If we tell the exact place, unfortunately, it is very likely to be plundered. It is the oldest commercial shipwreck that has ever been discovered according to experts. The oldest shipwreck before this one is the Uluburun shipwreck in Antalya’s Uluburun. It dates back 1,400 years. The artifacts found there are now on display at the Bodrum Underwater Museum. This one is 200 years older than the Uluburun shipwreck. It dates back to 1,600 B.C. We are talking about a shipwreck from the 1600s. It is 14 meters in length and it has 1.5 tons of copper ingots,” he added.
Göbeklitepe of underwater world
“This shipwreck is the Göbeklitepe of underwater archaeology. It is very important. We will initiate excavations with the permission of the Culture and Tourism Ministry General Directorate of Museums. We have offered the establishment of a museum to display the artifacts in this ship. I hope that this museum will exhibit the findings to be removed from the ship after their renovation. With this museum, Kemer district will become the center of underwater archaeology and maritime. It is stated that there are many other such wrecks along the Mediterranean coast. As our possibilities grow, we can reach others,” Karaloğlu said.
Göbeklitepe is the world’s oldest known temple site in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, with its discovery having been called “groundbreaking,” as it upended everything humanity has known about ancient history. Likening the shipwreck discovery to Göbeklitepe, Karaloğlu believes the find in the depths of the Mediterranean Sea will shed fresh light on ancient marine history.
[HH] 50 meters in depth
Öniz said that within the scope of a five-year project related to the shipwreck, which is 50 meters deep, excavations will be carried out with the participation of international archaeologists.
“This wreck was probably caught in a storm on its way from the island of Cyprus to an Aegean region 3,600 years ago. The main load of the shipwreck is copper ingots. The typology of the ingots shows that it is a merchant ship of the 16th century. At the same time, this ship was probably carrying one of the world’s first and earliest industrial products. With these characteristics, we can say that it is a scientific breakthrough in underwater archeology. Also, the number of shipwrecks discovered along the Mediterranean coast has so far increased to 167,” Öniz said.